Ever since the courts knocked the FCC’s previous network neutrality framework on its backside, we’ve been waiting for the FCC’s response. Now we have it, or at least part of it.
They’re not going to appeal. Rather, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is planning to write a brand new set of rules that he hopes will pass muster. After all, the FCC’s entry into regulating internet traffic wasn’t denied outright by the courts, just the particular door chosen the first time through. He is taking their invitation to ‘act boldly’ and to use section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, using the regulate broadband infrastructure deployment to cover what he wants to do, while keeping the option to reclassify broadband on the table as a not-so-subtle suggestion to providers not to quibble.
But there’s a reason the previous FCC Chairman Genachwoski picked the door he picked, i.e. the others each had significant drawbacks. Wheeler isn’t offering many specifics at the moment about how he will wave his magic wand and do what couldn’t be done last time. But I’m wondering if Wheeler isn’t going to mirror Genachwoski here.
He doesn’t need to win, all he needs to do is put something in place that will hold the internet together for another four years. Even if the courts strike down whatever he comes up with, four years is a long time for everyone to come to a consensus and make the rules moot. Isn’t the FCC’s modus operandi “Fix it if you can, else delay until it’s someone else’s problem.”?